Amid Growing Polarization, Intolerance Worldwide, Secretary-General Highlights Education as Powerful Tool to Tackle Hate Speech, at Multi-Stakeholder Forum

Following is UN Secretary‑General António Guterres’ message to the Multi‑stakeholder Forum on Addressing Hate Speech through Education, in Paris today:

Thank you for taking part in this Multi‑stakeholder Forum on Addressing Hate Speech through Education.  Your backgrounds and experiences are diverse, but you have all joined forces to help tackle the global firestorm of hate speech around the world.

Hate speech is rising against the backdrop of growing polarization and intolerance.  Across the globe, public discourse is being coarsened, democratic values threatened and social cohesion undermined.  With social media, hate speech can travel further and more quickly than previously imaginable.  This is especially alarming when we consider that mass violence never arises in the absence of hate speech.  It is the fuel that allows the fire to ignite — and it is a direct threat our common cause of peace, stability, sustainable development and human dignity.

The United Nations Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech sets out a framework for tackling hate speech holistically, from the root causes and grievances driving it, to its impact on victims and societies.  The Strategy is being implemented across the United Nations system, but its real value in preventing violence and saving lives depends on the engagement of many — including Governments, civil society actors and individual champions.  Given the scale and reach of the challenge, we all must step up.

From its inception — which is rooted in never repeating the horrors of the Second World War and the Holocaust — the United Nations has worked to mobilize the world against hatred of all kinds and to protect and defend human rights.  When we fail to see our problems through a human rights lens, we either fail to solve them, or we create new ones.  This is the guiding motivation behind my Call to Action for Human Rights.  It is why our efforts to tackle hate speech are firmly rooted in human rights commitments.

Our Strategy recognizes education as a powerful tool to address and counter hate speech, through its ability to instil values of respect for human rights and diversity, social justice and gender equality, as well as to provide learners with the critical thinking skills needed to challenge those that promote hatred.

On 26 October, we will host a Global Conference bringing together Ministers of Education from around the world to build consensus on the imperative to strengthen education responses to hate speech and set out concrete recommendations to do so.  Today’s event will help inform this upcoming Conference by providing a platform for the voices and expertise of a wide range of practitioners from around the world.  I encourage you to use this Forum as an opportunity to explore how to strengthen educational responses to tackle hate speech, share ideas on what more needs to be done to make this a reality at national and community levels, and propose what we as the United Nations can do to support such efforts.

Hatred is a danger to everyone – and so fighting it must be a job for everyone.  Thank you for doing your part.

For information media. Not an official record.